Thursday, 26 March 2015

Right hand rudiments

I've been working on building a solid right hand with a couple of new students who are beginners. However, these exercises are the basis of pretty much everything we do with our right hand, and it never hurts to revisit the basics!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Workshops at Grand Northern Ukulele Festival, May 22-24

I'll be at the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival in May, and I'll be running a brand new workshop called 'Jamming Essentials', where you will...

"Discover the secrets of jamming and ditch the song sheets! Learn common progressions, what to do if everyone is playing in a different key, and loads of tips, tricks, and shortcuts that’ll have you playing loads of great songs without having to go searching for the chords on the internet! Attendees will need a uke. The workshop level is beginner/ intermediate. No preparation is necessary, but attendees should be able to play open position chords confidently, be able to strum and keep a rhythm and tempo solidly, and not be afraid of playing barre chords (if you can play Bb, you’ll be fine!)"

There are loads of other great workshops, too, and you can find out all about them (and book your places) here...

(You'll need to have a festival ticket in order to book workshops)

Look forward to seeing you there!

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Handy notation tools for the uke player!

I was recently asked for suggestions for handy ways of finding and notating chords. Here are my top tips!

Sheep entertainment's chord finder

Great if you need to quickly find a tricky chord, find a new inversion, or need to work out chords in a different tuning (make sure you select the correct tuning, as it defaults to ADF#B). Also plays the chords so you can listen and compare to what you are playing!


This is a piece of software that allows you to create chord diagrams you can then cut and paste into documents. I use it for all my workshop materials. It can also attempt to work out the name of the chord for you. There are loads of options to play with and it produces really nice looking diagrams ideal for song sheets. It might look like you have to buy it, but scroll right to the bottom of the page and you'll see it is now public domain and you can down load it for free!

Rubber stamps

These are so handy to have if you quickly want to scribble down a little note to yourself on a song sheet. Stamp it on your sheet, scribble on the dots and you're away!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

New CD!

A little break from the lessons to tell you all that I have a CD out! More info here...

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Fingerpicking Workshop Notes

If you've been to my fingerpicking workshop, then here is a video playing through all the examples you'll have on your sheet.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Blues and Beyond Workshop Notes

If you've attended my Blues and Beyond workshop, here's a little video of me playing through the examples on the worksheet you took away with you.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Helping to launch the Registry of Guitar Tutors new Ukulele grades

Having got hold of the teaching materials for the RGTs new ukulele exams at The Ukulele Festival of Great Britain back in June (which was great news for me as someone who was already teaching guitar to the RGT Acoustic Guitar syllabus), I was really pleased to be asked to lead two seminars at their annual conference at the University of West London yesterday.

It was really good to see so many uke players and uke-curious guitar teachers there, and to meet up with Ben Rouse again who also ran a seminar and gave a brilliant lunchtime concert.

Some people may think 'exams for uke?, that's not what it's all about', but parents of children I teach are always keen for their children to be able to achieve qualifications, and these qualifications are not only the equivalent of any other instrument at the same grade, they are also accredited, which means they can count towards future qualifications/ courses later in a students education. It also helps to show people that the ukulele is as much worthy of serious study as any other instrument, and just as able to be used to deliver a solid, rounded musical education. What most impressed me about the books and syllabus wasn't just the clear, consistent layout or indeed the CD (invaluable when you only see students for say 20 minutes a week), but was the fact that care has been taken to allow students to focus on what ukulele playing means to them. You can of course study melodies and fingerstyle playing, but if what you really want from the ukulele is it's traditional role of song accompaniment, then that route is also available. On top of that, it's possible to enter groups, not just individuals. All in all, it's a syllabus that very much comes from the ukulele players and teachers own experiences.

It was a pleasure to run the seminars, and having a badge labelled 'lecturer' made me feel almost like I had a 'proper job'! I also finally got to meet fellow LogaRhythm endorsee and fabulous percussive guitarist Chris Woods ( I was also asked to play right at the end of the conference (so we began and ended the day with uke), which was a pleasant surprise, and an honour when you consider that the other two performers were the amazing Dobro player Chris Eaton and top blues guitarist Danny Kyle ( I think I managed to hold my own, and show that the uke can keep up with those guitars!

If anyone is interested in finding out more, please visit, feel free to get in touch, and if you think you might be interested in learning the uke using the RGT syllabus then that's certainly something I'm able to offer, either in person or via Skype.